Henry M. Stanley.

How I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley online

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Online LibraryHenry M. StanleyHow I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley → online text (page 10 of 38)
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treated him with the consideration due to so great and good a man. The
morrow came, and with it went Abdullah bin Nasib, or "Kisesa," as he is
called by the Wanyamwezi, with all his pagazis, his train of followers,
and each and every one of his donkeys, towards Bagamoyo, without so much
as giving a "Kwaheri," or good-bye.

At this place there are generally to be found from ten to thirty pagazis
awaiting up-caravans. I was fortunate enough to secure twelve good
people, who, upon my arrival at Unyanyembe, without an exception,
voluntarily engaged themselves as carriers to Ujiji. With the formidable
marches of Marenga Mkali in front, I felt thankful for this happy
windfall, which resolved the difficulties I had been anticipating; for
I had but ten donkeys left, and four of these were so enfeebled that
they were worthless as baggage animals.

Mpwapwa - so called by the Arabs, who have managed to corrupt almost
every native word - is called "Mbambwa" by the Wasagara. It is a mountain
range rising over 6,000 feet above the sea, bounding on the north the
extensive plain which commences at Ugombo lake, and on the east that
part of the plain which is called Marenga Mkali, which stretches away
beyond the borders of Uhumba. Opposite Mpwapwa, at the distance of
thirty miles or so, rises the Anak peak of Rubeho, with several other
ambitious and tall brethren cresting long lines of rectilinear scarps,
which ascend from the plain of Ugombo and Marenga Mkali as regularly as
if they had been chiselled out by the hands of generations of masons and

Upon looking at Mpwapwa's greenly-tinted slopes, dark with many
a densely-foliaged tree; its many rills flowing sweet and clear,
nourishing besides thick patches of gum and thorn bush, giant sycamore
and parachute-topped mimosa, and permitting my imagination to picture
sweet views behind the tall cones above, I was tempted to brave the
fatigue of an ascent to the summit. Nor was my love for the picturesque
disappointed. One sweep of the eyes embraced hundreds of square miles
of plain and mountain, from Ugombo Peak away to distant Ugogo, and
from Rubeho and Ugogo to the dim and purple pasture lands of the wild,
untamable Wahumba. The plain of Ugombo and its neighbour of Marenga
Mkali, apparently level as a sea, was dotted here and there with
"hillocks dropt in Nature's careless haste," which appeared like islands
amid the dun and green expanse. Where the jungle was dense the colour
was green, alternating with dark brown; where the plain appeared denuded
of bush and brake it had a whity-brown appearance, on which the passing
clouds now and again cast their deep shadows. Altogether this side
of the picture was not inviting; it exhibited too plainly the true
wilderness in its sternest aspect; but perhaps the knowledge that in the
bosom of the vast plain before me there was not one drop of water but
was bitter as nitre, and undrinkable as urine, prejudiced me against
it, The hunter might consider it a paradise, for in its depths were
all kinds of game to attract his keenest instincts; but to the mere
traveller it had a stern outlook. Nearer, however, to the base of the
Mpwapwa the aspect of the plain altered. At first the jungle thinned,
openings in the wood appeared, then wide and naked clearings, then
extensive fields of the hardy holcus, Indian corn, and maweri or bajri,
with here and there a square tembe or village. Still nearer ran thin
lines of fresh young grass, great trees surrounded a patch of alluvial
meadow. A broad river-bed, containing several rivulets of water, ran
through the thirsty fields, conveying the vivifying element which in
this part of Usagara was so scarce and precious. Down to the river-bed
sloped the Mpwapwa, roughened in some places by great boulders of
basalt, or by rock masses, which had parted from a precipitous scarp,
where clung the kolquall with a sure hold, drawing nourishment where
every other green thing failed; clad in others by the hardy mimosa,
which rose like a sloping bank of green verdure almost to the summit.
And, happy sight to me so long a stranger to it, there were hundreds of
cattle grazing, imparting a pleasing animation to the solitude of the
deep folds of the mountain range.

But the fairest view was obtained by looking northward towards the dense
group of mountains which buttressed the front range, facing towards
Rubeho. It was the home of the winds, which starting here and sweeping
down the precipitous slopes and solitary peaks on the western side,
and gathering strength as they rushed through the prairie-like Marenga
Mkali, howled through Ugogo and Unyamwezi with the force of a storm,
It was also the home of the dews, where sprang the clear springs which
cheered by their music the bosky dells below, and enriched the populous
district of Mpwapwa. One felt better, stronger, on this breezy height,
drinking in the pure air and feasting the eyes on such a varied
landscape as it presented, on spreading plateaus green as lawns, on
smooth rounded tops, on mountain vales containing recesses which
might charm a hermit's soul, on deep and awful ravines where reigned
a twilight gloom, on fractured and riven precipices, on huge
fantastically-worn boulders which overtopped them, on picturesque tracts
which embraced all that was wild, and all that was poetical in Nature.

Mpwapwa, though the traveller from the coast will feel grateful for the
milk it furnished after being so long deprived of it, will be kept in
mind as a most remarkable place for earwigs. In my tent they might
be counted by thousands; in my slung cot they were by hundreds; on my
clothes they were by fifties; on my neck and head they were by scores.
The several plagues of locusts, fleas, and lice sink into utter
insignificance compared with this fearful one of earwigs. It is true
they did not bite, and they did not irritate the cuticle, but what their
presence and numbers suggested was something so horrible that it drove
one nearly insane to think of it. Who will come to East Africa without
reading the experiences of Burton and Speke? Who is he that having read
them will not remember with horror the dreadful account given by Speke
of his encounters with these pests? My intense nervous watchfulness
alone, I believe, saved me from a like calamity.

Second to the earwigs in importance and in numbers were the white
ants, whose powers of destructiveness were simply awful. Mats, cloth,
portmanteaus, clothes, in short, every article I possessed, seemed on
the verge of destruction, and, as I witnessed their voracity, I felt
anxious lest my tent should be devoured while I slept. This was the
first khambi since leaving the coast where their presence became a
matter of anxiety; at all other camping places hitherto the red and
black ants had usurped our attention, but at Mpwapwa the red species
were not seen, while the black were also very scarce.

After a three days' halt at Mpwapwa I decided of a march to Marenga
Mkali, which should be uninterrupted until we reached Mvumi in Ugogo,
where I should be inducted into the art of paying tribute to the Wagogo
chiefs. The first march to Kisokweh was purposely made short, being
barely four miles, in order to enable Sheikh Thani, Sheikh Hamed, and
five or six Wasawahili caravans to come up with me at Chunyo on the
confines of Marenga Mkali.


Mortality amongst the baggage animals. - The contumacious
Wagogo - Mobs of Maenads. - Tribute paying. - Necessity of
prudence. - Oration of the guide. - The genuine "Ugogians." -
Vituperative power. - A surprised chief. - The famous
Mizanza. - Killing hyaenas. - The Greeks and Romans of
Africa. - A critical moment. - The "elephant's back." - The
wilderness of Ukimbu. - End of the first stage of the
search. - Arrival at Unyanyembe.

The 22nd of May saw Thani and Hamed's caravans united with my own at
Chunyo, three and a half hours' march from Mpwapwa. The road from the
latter place ran along the skirts of the Mpwapwa range; at three or four
places it crossed outlying spurs that stood isolated from the main body
of the range. The last of these hill spurs, joined by an elevated cross
ridge to the Mpwapwa, shelters the tembe of Chunyo, situated on the
western face, from the stormy gusts that come roaring down the steep
slopes. The water of Chunyo is eminently bad, in fact it is its
saline-nitrous nature which has given the name Marenga Mkali - bitter
water - to the wilderness which separates Usagara from Ugogo. Though
extremely offensive to the palate, Arabs and the natives drink it
without fear, and without any bad results; but they are careful to
withhold their baggage animals from the pits. Being ignorant of its
nature, and not exactly understanding what precise location was meant
by Marenga Mkali, I permitted the donkeys to be taken to water, as usual
after a march; and the consequence was calamitous in the extreme. What
the fearful swamp of Makata had spared, the waters of Marenga Mkali
destroyed. In less than five days after our departure from Chunyo or
Marenga Mali, five out of the nine donkeys left to me at the time - the
five healthiest animals - fell victims.

We formed quite an imposing caravan as we emerged from inhospitable
Chunyo, in number amounting to about four hundred souls. We were strong
in guns, flags, horns, sounding drums and noise. To Sheikh Hamed, by
permission of Sheikh Thani, and myself was allotted the task of guiding
and leading this great caravan through dreaded Ugogo; which was a most
unhappy selection, as will be seen hereafter.

Marenga Mali, over thirty miles across, was at last before us. This
distance had to be traversed within thirty-six hours, so that the
fatigue of the ordinary march would be more than doubled by this.
From Chunyo to Ugogo not one drop of water was to be found. As a
large caravan, say over two hundred souls, seldom travels over one and
three-quarter miles per hour, a march of thirty miles would require
seventeen hours of endurance without water and but little rest. East
Africa generally possessing unlimited quantities of water, caravans
have not been compelled for lack of the element to have recourse to
the mushok of India and the khirbeh of Egypt. Being able to cross the
waterless districts by a couple of long marches, they content themselves
for the time with a small gourdful, and with keeping their imaginations
dwelling upon the copious quantities they will drink upon arrival at the

The march through this waterless district was most monotonous, and a
dangerous fever attacked me, which seemed to eat into my very vitals.
The wonders of Africa that bodied themselves forth in the shape of
flocks of zebras, giraffes, elands, or antelopes, galloping over the
jungleless plain, had no charm for me; nor could they serve to draw my
attention from the severe fit of sickness which possessed me. Towards
the end of the first march I was not able to sit upon the donkey's back;
nor would it do, when but a third of the way across the wilderness, to
halt until the next day; soldiers were therefore detailed to carry me in
a hammock, and, when the terekeza was performed in the afternoon, I lay
in a lethargic state, unconscious of all things. With the night passed
the fever, and, at 3 o'clock in the morning, when the march was resumed,
I was booted and spurred, and the recognized mtongi of my caravan once
more. At 8 A.M. we had performed the thirty-two miles. The wilderness
of Marenga Mkali had been passed and we had entered Ugogo, which was at
once a dreaded land to my caravan, and a Land of Promise to myself.

The transition from the wilderness into this Promised Land was very
gradual and easy. Very slowly the jungle thinned, the cleared land was
a long time appearing, and when it had finally appeared, there were no
signs of cultivation until we could clearly make out the herbage and
vegetation on some hill slopes to our right running parallel with
our route, then we saw timber on the hills, and broad acreage under
cultivation - and, lo! as we ascended a wave of reddish earth covered
with tall weeds and cane, but a few feet from us, and directly across
our path, were the fields of matama and grain we had been looking for,
and Ugogo had been entered an hour before.

The view was not such as I expected. I had imagined a plateau several
hundred feet higher than Marenga Mkali, and an expansive view which
should reveal Ugogo and its characteristics at once. But instead, while
travelling from the tall weeds which covered the clearing which had
preceded the cultivated parts, we had entered into the depths of the
taller matama stalks, and, excepting some distant hills near Mvumi,
where the Great Sultan lived - the first of the tribe to whom we should
pay tribute - the view was extremely limited.

However, in the neighbourhood of the first village a glimpse at some
of the peculiar features of Ugogo was obtained, and there was a vast
plain - now flat, now heaving upwards, here level as a table, there
tilted up into rugged knolls bristling with scores of rough boulders of
immense size, which lay piled one above another as if the children of a
Titanic race had been playing at house-building. Indeed, these piles of
rounded, angular, and riven rock formed miniature hills of themselves;
and appeared as if each body had been ejected upwards by some violent
agency beneath. There was one of these in particular, near Mvumi, which
was so large, and being slightly obscured from view by the outspreading
branches of a gigantic baobab, bore such a strong resemblance to a
square tower of massive dimensions, that for a long time I cherished
the idea that I had discovered something most interesting which had
strangely escaped the notice of my predecessors in East Africa. A nearer
view dispelled the illusion, and proved it to be a huge cube of rock,
measuring about forty feet each way. The baobabs were also particularly
conspicuous on this scene, no other kind of tree being visible in the
cultivated parts. These had probably been left for two reasons: first,
want of proper axes for felling trees of such enormous growth; secondly,
because during a famine the fruit of the baobab furnishes a flour which,
in the absence of anything better, is said to be eatable and nourishing.

The first words I heard in Ugogo were from a Wagogo elder, of sturdy
form, who in an indolent way tended the flocks, but showed a marked
interest in the stranger clad in white flannels, with a Hawkes' patent
cork solar topee on his head, a most unusual thing in Ugogo, who came
walking past him, and there were "Yambo, Musungu, Yambo, bana, bana,"
delivered with a voice loud enough to make itself heard a full mile
away. No sooner had the greeting been delivered than the word "Musungu"
seemed to electrify his entire village; and the people of other
villages, situated at intervals near the road, noting the excitement
that reigned at the first, also participated in the general frenzy which
seemed suddenly to have possessed them. I consider my progress from
the first village to Mvumi to have been most triumphant; for I was
accompanied by a furious mob of men, women, and children, all almost as
naked as Mother Eve when the world first dawned upon her in the garden
of Eden, fighting, quarrelling, jostling, staggering against each other
for the best view of the white man, the like of whom was now seen for
the first time in this part of Ugogo. The cries of admiration, such as
"Hi-le!" which broke often and in confused uproar upon my ear, were not
gratefully accepted, inasmuch as I deemed many of them impertinent. A
respectful silence and more reserved behaviour would have won my
esteem; but, ye powers, who cause etiquette to be observed in Usungu,*
respectful silence, reserved behaviour, and esteem are terms unknown
in savage Ugogo. Hitherto I had compared myself to a merchant of Bagdad
travelling among the Kurds of Kurdistan, selling his wares of Damascus
silk, kefiyehs, &c.; but now I was compelled to lower my standard, and
thought myself not much better than a monkey in a zoological collection.
One of my soldiers requested them to lessen their vociferous noise;
but the evil-minded race ordered him to shut up, as a thing unworthy to
speak to the Wagogo! When I imploringly turned to the Arabs for counsel
in this strait, old Sheikh Thani, always worldly wise, said, "Heed them
not; they are dogs who bite besides barking." - - - - *
White man's land. - - - -

At 9 A.M. we were in our boma, near Mvumi village; but here also crowds
of Wagogo came to catch a glimpse of the Musungu, whose presence was
soon made known throughout the district of Mvumi. But two hours later I
was oblivious of their endeavours to see me; for, despite repeated doses
of quinine, the mukunguru had sure hold of me.

The next day was a march of eight miles, from East Mvumi to West Mvumi,
where lived the Sultan of the district. The quantity and variety
of provisions which arrived at our boma did not belie the reports
respecting the productions of Ugogo. Milk, sour and sweet, honey, beans,
matama, maweri, Indian corn, ghee, pea-nuts, and a species of bean-nut
very like a large pistachio or an almond, water-melons, pumpkins,
mush-melons, and cucumbers were brought, and readily exchanged for
Merikani, Kaniki, and for the white Merikani beads and Sami-Sami, or
Sam-Sam. The trade and barter which progressed in the camp from morning
till night reminded me of the customs existing among the Gallas and
Abyssinians. Eastward, caravans were obliged to despatch men with cloth,
to purchase from the villagers. This was unnecessary in Ugogo, where the
people voluntarily brought every vendible they possessed to the camp.
The smallest breadth of white or blue cloth became saleable and useful
in purchasing provisions - even a loin-cloth worn threadbare.

The day after our march was a halt. We had fixed this day for bearing
the tribute to the Great Sultan of Mvumi. Prudent and cautious Sheikh
Thani early began this important duty, the omission of which would have
been a signal for war. Hamed and Thani sent two faithful slaves, well
up to the eccentricities of the Wagogo sultans - well spoken, having glib
tongues and the real instinct for trade as carried on amongst
Orientals. They bore six doti of cloths, viz., one doti of Dabwani
Ulyah contributed by myself, also one doti of Barsati from me, two doti
Merikani Satine from Sheikh Thani, and two doti of Kaniki from Sheikh
Hamed, as a first instalment of the tribute. The slaves were absent a
full hour, but having wasted their powers of pleading, in vain, they
returned with the demand for more, which Sheikh Thani communicated to me
in this wise:

"Auf! this Sultan is a very bad man - a very bad man indeed; he says, the
Musungu is a great man, I call him a sultan; the Musungu is very rich,
for he has several caravans already gone past; the Musungu must pay
forty doti, and the Arabs must pay twelve doti each, for they have rich
caravans. It is of no use for you to tell me you are all one caravan,
otherwise why so many flags and tents? Go and bring me sixty doti, with
less I will not be satisfied."

I suggested to Sheikh Thani, upon hearing this exorbitant demand, that
had I twenty Wasungu* armed with Winchester repeating rifles, the Sultan
might be obliged to pay tribute to me; but Thani prayed and begged me to
be cautious lest angry words might irritate the Sultan and cause him to
demand a double tribute, as he was quite capable of doing so; "and if
you preferred war," said he, "your pagazis would all desert, and leave
you and your cloth to the small mercy of the Wagogo." But I hastened to
allay his fears by telling Bombay, in his presence, that I had foreseen
such demands on the part of the Wagogo, and that having set aside one
hundred and twenty doti of honga cloths, I should not consider myself a
sufferer if the Sultan demanded and I paid forty cloths to him; that he
must therefore open the honga bale, and permit Sheikh Thani to extract
such cloths as the Sultan might like.

Sheikh Thani, having put on the cap of consideration and joined heads
with Hamed and the faithful serviles, thought if I paid twelve doti,
out of which three should be of Ulyah+ quality, that the Sultan might
possibly condescend to accept our tribute; supposing he was persuaded
by the oratorical words of the "Faithfuls," that the Musungu had nothing
with him but the mashiwa (boat), which would be of no use to him, come
what might, - with which prudent suggestion the Musungu concurred, seeing
its wisdom.

* White men.

+ Best, or superior.

The slaves departed, bearing this time from our boma thirty doti, with
our best wishes for their success. In an hour they returned with empty
hands, but yet unsuccessful. The Sultan demanded six doti of Merikani,
and a fundo of bubu, from the Musungu; and from the Arabs and other
caravans, twelve doti more. For the third time the slaves departed for
the Sultan's tembe, carrying with them six doti Merikani and a fundo of
bubu from myself, and ten doti from the Arabs. Again they returned to
us with the Sultan's words, "That, as the doti of the Musungu were short
measure, and the cloths of the Arabs of miserable quality, the Musungu
must send three doti full measure, and the Arabs five doti of
Kaniki." My three doti were at once measured out with the longest
fore-arm - according to Kigogo measure - and sent off by Bombay; but the
Arabs, almost in despair, declared they would be ruined if they gave way
to such demands, and out of the five doti demanded sent only two, with a
pleading to the Sultan that he would consider what was paid as just and
fair Muhongo, and not ask any more. But the Sultan of Mvumi was by no
means disposed to consider any such proposition, but declared he must
have three doti, and these to be two of Ulyah cloth, and one Kitambi
Barsati, which, as he was determined to obtain, were sent to him heavy
with the deep maledictions of Sheikh Hamed and the despairing sighs of
sheikh Thani.

Altogether the sultanship of a district in Ugogo must be very
remunerative, besides being a delightful sinecure, so long as the Sultan
has to deal with timid Arab merchants who fear to exhibit anything
approaching to independence and self-reliance, lest they might
be mulcted in cloth. In one day from one camp the sultan received
forty-seven doti, consisting of Merikani, Kaniki, Barsati, and Dabwani,
equal to $35.25, besides seven doti of superior cloths, consisting of
Rehani, Sohari, and Daobwani Ulyah, and one fundo of Bubu, equal to
$14.00, making a total of $49.25 - a most handsome revenue for a Mgogo

On the 27th May we gladly shook the dust of Mvumi from our feet, and
continued on our route - ever westward. Five of my donkeys had died the
night before, from the effects of the water of Marenga Mkali. Before
leaving the camp of Mvumi, I went to look at their carcases; but found
them to have been clean picked by the hyaenas, and the bones taken
possession of by an army of white-necked crows.

As we passed the numerous villages, and perceived the entire face of
the land to be one vast field of grain, and counted the people halted
by scores on the roadside to feast their eyes with a greedy stare on the
Musungu, I no longer wondered at the extortionate demands of the Wagogo.
For it was manifest that they had but to stretch out their hands to
possess whatever the wealth of a caravan consisted of; and I began to
think better of the people who, knowing well their strength, did not
use it - of people who were intellectual enough to comprehend that their
interest lay in permitting the caravans to pass on without attempting
any outrage.

Between Mvumi and the nest Sultan's district, that of Matamburu, I
counted no less than twenty-five villages, scattered over the clayey,
coloured plain. Despite the inhospitable nature of the plain, it was
better cultivated than any part of any other country we had seen since
leaving Bagamoyo.

When we had at last arrived at our boma of Matamburu, the same groups of
curious people, the same eager looks, the same exclamations of surprise,
the same, peals of laughter, at something they deemed ludicrous in the
Musungu's dress or manner, awaited us, as at Mvumi. The Arabs being
"Wakonongo" travellers, whom they saw every day, enjoyed a complete
immunity from the vexations which we had to endure.

The Sultan of Matamburu, a man of herculean form, and massive head well
set on shoulders that might vie with those of Milo, proved to be a very

Online LibraryHenry M. StanleyHow I Found Livingstone; travels, adventures, and discoveres in Central Africa, including an account of four months' residence with Dr. Livingstone, by Henry M. Stanley → online text (page 10 of 38)